Six O'Clock Saints

Exculpation

Written by: PP on 10/07/2010 20:36:53

Now here's an interesting release: "Exculpation" by Six O' Clock Saints, from Reading, Philadelphia. Semi-gothic industrial elements are mixed together with electronica, Depeche Mode / Morrissey-inspired melancholic pop, and the end result is surprisingly artsy. It's as if the band is swinging away between British indie rock and something much darker and more avant-garde. There's a hint of new-wave mixed with retrospective 80s pop vibe, and spots where you feel like you've just been thrown in the middle of a gothic dance club with a bunch of glowsticks, ready to rave the night away. Art rock is indeed the appropriate label for "Exculpation" as the promo blurb suggests.

Can such a description amount to anything sonically pleasing? Surprisingly, Six O' Clock Saints have mastered the art of dark, brooding melody as well as they've learned their 80s dance beats, just check out the result on "Memento Mori", for instance. But it's not all rave'n'dance, there are a couple of super avant-garde, spoken-word experiments like "Myself Underneath", which brings to mind Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences, maybe even Cake and Pavement as well. But the best moments are definitely those where vocalist Tony Jimmy Jackson shows off his great range, delivering melodies that slowly rise from deep singing into almost tenor levels, such as on "Pretty Face". There's something irresistible about melancholic melody at that high pitch.

"Something Sweet" displays a playful, heavily Depeche Mode-influenced side to the band, making it one of the highlights on the record. Armed with a solid chorus and a thumping disco beat, it should entice most people humming along. Straight after the band experiments with grungy anger on "Wasted", that wouldn't feel entirely out of place on a late Nirvana record or something, and on "Skin" which contains a strange Nine Inch Nails remix vibe to it. And this is essentially the problem with "Exculpation": it's an art rock interpretation of art rock. It's all over the place, bouncing between genres in opposite extremes from one another. The songs are all individually decent - some even great - but the red thread is missing. More focus, and I don't see why a song like "R Lee" couldn't hit the radio waves.

Download: R Lee, Something Sweet, Pretty Face
For the fans of: Depeche Mode meets Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails and Morrissey
Listen: Myspace

Release date 04.05.2010
DRP Records

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